Regent choice missed chance

The Legislature failed to consider a very qualified regent candidate.

Daily Editorial Board

Looking back on the Board of Regents’ process of choosing a replacement for Steve Sviggum, it’s surprising to see Kelly Smith was passed over.

Smith was the superintendent for Belle Plaine public school district and would have brought direct, hands-on experience with education.

He has dedicated his life and career to the topic about which regents make decisions but only received two votes in the first round of voting and was left out in the second round.

Instead, the choice was between an insurance executive and a bank CEO. Tom Devine, the insurance executive, has officially taken the empty seat on the board. Devine won the seat by 110-75 over Bob Vogel, who is president and CEO of New Market Bank.

As a University of Minnesota alumnus, Devine has an understanding of the campus and students’ experiences in some aspects, but he graduated 38 years ago when tuition was $546 per semester. It is now more than 20 times that.

However, Devine does have a son who is a freshman at the University. This will provide a first-hand experience and view on the University experience of today for Devine to observe and learn from. Devine will hopefully understand the new struggles students face financially and otherwise. We are glad that he views higher education as an asset to the state and acknowledges the need to invest in higher education.

It is disappointing that Smith was passed over so quickly, but as an alumni of the University and a father of a University student, we hope that Devine will be a strong regent nonetheless.